Join us in celebrating SINCERELY SICILY'S book birthday! We sat down with debut Musa Tamika Burgess to learn all about the inspiration behind this book.
But first, a little bit about Sincerely Sicily:
From debut author Tamika Burgess comes the captivating and empowering story of Sicily Jordan--a Black Panamanian fashionista who rocks her braids with pride--who learns to use her voice and take pride in who she is while confronting prejudice in the most unexpected of places.
Staying quiet may no longer be an option, but that doesn't mean Sicily has the words to show the world just what it means to be a proud Black Panamanian either. Even though she hasn't written in her journal since her abuelo passed, it's time to pick up her pen again--but will it be enough to prove to herself and everyone else exactly who she is?
And now to our interview with Tamika!
What was the most difficult scene to write in this story?
I have two. The first was writing the dinner table scene when Sicily’s Abuela makes hurtful remarks about Sicily choosing to wear her hair in braids. Although I have never experienced hair discrimination, I wanted the scene to be realistic. So I tapped into past situations where I was hurt by things people I cared about said to me. I used that raw emotion and matched it with how I thought a 12-year-old would respond in a situation like that.
The second scene is when Sicily gives her presentation about Panama and gets questioned by her classmates about her Black race and Panamanian background. Again, I pulled from my past experiences to write this.
But, one major thing I wanted to convey in the scene was that feeling of embarrassment and being singled out when you’re at an age where all you want to do is fit in and be like your peers. I remember feeling that way throughout middle school.
Both of these scenes were difficult to write because I put a lot of pressure on myself to accurately show the feelings and emotions that Sicily experienced.
What message are you hoping readers will take away from this story?
I hope that Sincerely Sicily conveys to readers that you should not make assumptions about people based on what you see. I would love for readers to learn that race has nothing to do with cultural background.
What books are on your to-be-read list?
I have so, so many, but here are the next three I plan on reading:
Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega
Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle
Undercover Latina by Aya de León
Las Musas Speak
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